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Homemade Cold Brew Is Smooth, Refreshing + Easy to Prep for Busy Mornings

Learn how to grind your beans for the smoothest cup possible

Summer heat got you craving a cool, refreshing caffeine fix? As a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, I totally get it. I love switching over to cold brew for a refreshing (and less-acidic) pick-me-up. But you don’t have to wait in line at expensive coffee shops for a sip. I found the easiest homemade recipe that preps in 15 minutes. It’s the perfect grab-and-go solution for any time of day. Plus, you can adjust the strength and flavor to your exact preferences. I even learned expert tips on the best roast, grind size and brewing techniques. Here’s how to make café-quality homemade cold brew. 

See also: Iced Coffee vs Cold Brew: Which Is A Better Pick For You? Health + Coffee Pros Weigh In

Your guide to homemade cold brew

shot of steeping homemade cold brew

I wasn’t entirely sure where to start when it came to making cold brew. And achieving that perfect cup requires a bit of know-how. So, I put together a guide for you with some expert tips from Lisa Bryan, Youtuber and creator of Downshiftology, for brewing your own masterpiece.

1. The roast

For cold brew, medium or dark roasts are ideal. They offer richer, bolder flavors that hold up well to dilution. “Dark roast beans are the most commonly used beans for coffee shop cold brew,” explains Bryan, “but the great thing about making it at home is that you can use whatever beans you have on hand and that fit your preferences!”

2. Grinding

“Grind your beans at a medium-coarse consistency,” says Bryan. She adds that “you don’t want finely ground coffee beans, which is what you’d use for drip coffee.” It also prevents over-extraction, which can yield a bitter and astringent cup.

3. Coffee-to-water ratio

The ideal ratio depends on your personal preference, but a stronger ratio yields a stronger brew. “I typically recommend brewing at a ratio of 4:1 (four cups of water to one cup of coffee beans),” says Bryan. “If you want more cold brew, just double this.”

4. Steeping

Cold brew relies on long steeping times for optimal flavor extraction, so be patient! Bryan says: “aim for at least 12 hours. After that, you can play around with the flavor. If you’d like it stronger, brew it longer—up to 24 hours. But I find that 12 to 15 hours usually keeps most coffee lovers happy.”

5. Filtering

Bryan suggests using layers of cheesecloth over a fine-mesh strainer to remove the coffee grounds. But if you don’t have cheesecloth, you can also use paper coffee filters (click for other ways to coffee filters!).

Easy homemade cold brew recipe

It only takes 15 minutes to make this recipe from Cookie and Kate before popping it in the fridge. You’ll have yourself a basic cold brew, but feel free to add in your own mix-ins and flavorings (keep scrolling for some ideas).

Cold Brew Coffee

hand grabbing cup of homemade cold brew on coffee table


  • 3 oz. ground coffee (about ¾ cup whole coffee beans or 1½ cups coarsely-ground coffee)
  • 3 cups water (filtered water if you have it)


  • Active Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: ~12 hours
  • Yield: 5 cups of cold brew
  1. Firstly, in a 1-quart wide-mouth mason jar, combine the coffee and water and stir. Then, rest the mixture for about 5 minutes and stir it again; the coffee grounds seem to gain more water exposure this way.
  2. Put a lid on your container and refrigerate it for 12 to 18 hours.
  3. When you’re ready to strain your cold brew, place a thin paper coffee filter (or a thin cotton napkin or cloth) over a small fine-mesh strainer. Pour the concentrate through the prepared strainer into a liquid measuring cup or pitcher. Let it rest for a few minutes to let the last of the cold brew trickle down.
  4. To serve, fill a glass with ice and fill it halfway with water. Then fill the rest of the glass with cold brew concentrate and stir to combine.

Storing + using

“Cold brew coffee concentrate will keep fresh for a week or so in the fridge. You could go a little longer, but the flavor is best when consumed in the first week,” says Bryan. But make sure to store it in an airtight container, like a mason jar. Importantly, dilute it with water or milk when ready to enjoy. “This is pretty potent stuff. Only drink this straight up if you want to feel jittery and buzzy for the rest of the day,” notes Bryan.

Personalize your homemade cold brew

Those fancy coffee shops don’t have long lists of coffee flavors for nothing. With a little extra flavor, you’ll be brewing barista-quality coffee in no time. Here are some ways to personalize your homemade cold brew.

1. Spiced Cold Brew

Add a cinnamon stick, cloves or cardamom pods during the steeping process for a warm and aromatic twist.

2. Vanilla Sweetness

Include a vanilla bean pod during steeping for a subtle infusion or add a splash of vanilla extract to the diluted cold brew.

3. Creamy Delight

This is my go-to. For a luxurious treat, mix your cold brew with milk or cream for a cold brew latte. You can also add whipped cream or chocolate sauce.

Get more of your coffee fix with these stories below:

Homemade Coffee Milkshake Recipe: Secret Ingredient Makes It Extra Creamy + Dreamy

Homemade Coffee Creamer Is Healthier, Tastier + So Easy to Make With 3 Ingredients

Is Mushroom Coffee the Key to Stress-Free? Experts Weigh In on the Trendy Brew

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